Have you ever wondered what osteoarthritis is? It’s a condition suffered by millions of people around the world and is, in practice, the most common form of arthritis that we may encounter.
Its appearance generates continuous discomfort and pain of various degrees of intensity. Good news? Electrostimulation helps to combat it and reduce its effects. So you’ve come to the right place to find out everything about this problem.
What causes osteoarthritis?
When facing any kind of ailment or illness, a good place to start is to find out more about how it originates: why it occurs and what are its causes. Osteoarthritis is a consequence of wear and tear on the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones. The passage of time is merciless in this regard, although it is true that genetics and lifestyle may also play their part in its appearance.
This cartilage is made up of a firm, slippery tissue. Its function is obvious: to avoid friction between the bony areas that generate joint movements. When this tissue is damaged, the bones come into contact and the breakdown of cartilage is accelerated. Little by little, the whole joint begins to crumble like a house of cards. Changes in your bones and progressive damage to the connective tissues that bind the affected joint start to appear. Sooner rather than later, the joint lining eventually becomes inflamed in a process similar to that which occurs after the appearance of a bony callus.
In practice, this variety of arthritis appears in the hands, hips, spine, or knees. Your chances of getting it increase depending on these risk factors:
- Age. The older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from this type of osteoarthritis.
- Gender. Although it is not known why, women are more likely to suffer from this disease than men.
- Weight. Obese people are more exposed to this problem, mainly because they put their joints into a lot more strain when they move. Additionally, fatty tissue often generates proteins that are located around the joints and become inflamed.
- Genetics. Do you have any family members who’ve suffered from this condition? If so, your chances of having it increase.
- Joint injuries. Both recent and old injuries, even if they have healed, increase the risk.
- Repetitive stress. The repetition of certain joint movements, whether for work or sport, may eventually lead to osteoarthritis in a joint.
- Metabolic diseases. Hemochromatosis (excess iron) and diabetes fuel its appearance.
- Bone deformities. Some people who were born with malformed cartilage or joints develop this type of arthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
In most ailments or diseases, early detection is very important. Taking action as early as possible is always a good place to start. However, when we suffer from this condition, the process develops slowly and progressively, the deterioration increases over time, and for this reason, the condition is detected later than it should.
This is why you should know which symptoms can warn us of the onset or development of this terrible condition:
- Pain. It comes when performing specific movements or afterwards.
- Sensitivity. If you press on the joint or its surroundings, even gently, you will experience strange sensations.
- Stiffness. It is particularly noticeable after a long period of inactivity. The best time to check is every morning, as soon as you get out of bed.
- Osteophytes. These are extra pieces of bone that form around the arthritic joint. A tactile exploration makes it possible to perceive them as hard lumps.
- Lower flexibility. Gradually, range of motion in the joint is lost. At first, it’s hardly noticeable, but it becomes more noticeable in time.
- Swelling. The soft tissues surrounding the affected area may become inflamed.
- Noises. Sometimes you hear cracks, clicks, and other unusual sounds when activating or using those joints.
- Specific weakness. You may notice certain areas seem weaker when put under specific stress or demands. Muscle weakness and lack of stability are causing this.
When should you see a doctor?
In any cases in which you feel pain in the joint or persistent stiffness. It is best to see a specialist as soon as a couple of the symptoms described above appear continuously.
What parts of the body does osteoarthritis affect?
We have previously mentioned that the most frequently affected areas are the hands, the spine, the knee, and the hip. It is precisely the latter two that suffer from this problem to a greater extent and more serious degree.
Osteoarthritis of the knee
Did you know that this is the most common degenerative disease in this part of the body? The progression is slow and increasingly painful. It may appear there is no cure, but there are some guidelines, treatments, and precautions that make it easier to live with this condition.
As the knee’s protective cartilage deteriorates, it wears down and eventually deteriorates completely. The bones then rub together and often end up developing spurs that are as shapeless as they are painful. Lifestyle changes, specific medicines, and surgery are the main ways to improve the condition, as well as getting plenty of rest and resorting to physical therapy techniques such as electrostimulation.
Osteoarthritis of the hip
It is also the most common degenerative problem in the hip. The femoral head (a convex sphere) and the acetabulum (a rounded, concave element in the pelvis) interact to enable hip activity. Between them, there is a soft, slippery tissue known as articular cartilage, which prevents discomfort. But when this disease reduces or destroys it, the problem is painful. In this case, we may also have the appearance of damaging bone spurs.
If you suffer from this problem, the specialist will recommend that you live a healthy lifestyle, take certain medications and, if there is no other choice, surgery. EMS, of course, will also help you mitigate its effects.
Osteoarthritis and diet
One of the first things you can do if you have this form of arthritis is to improve your diet. Weight is a key factor in activating the condition and increases its discomfort. Therefore, the ratio between height and weight must be correct.
In this sense, fruits, vegetables, fish (especially the richest in omega-3 acids), soy protein, dark chocolate in moderation, and green tea are foods that should not be missing in your diet. On the other hand, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, red meat, and fried foods tend to increase the problem and should be avoided.
How can osteoarthritis be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is determined by combining different resources. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will examine the joint in question and look, above all, for swelling, hard lumps, and popping. They will also check for stability and will often order an x-ray of the area.
What is the cure for osteoarthritis?
While we shouldn’t brand the various treatments available as cures, it’s also true that the improvement that may be experienced is spectacular. It’s all a matter of learning to live with this condition and dilute its discomfort.
Pain relievers will help with the pain, especially paracetamol and ibuprofen and diclofenac gels. NSAID tablets are used at a later, more aggressive stage, while capsaicin cream usually acts as an effective pain reliever.
A few times a year, steroid injections may also be applied directly into the damaged joint as a form of shock treatment.
This is the last resort when the pain is unbearable or the reduction in your usual activity is too traumatic. The operation consists of replacing that joint with an artificial one.
Taking supplements or alternative medications is another possibility to alleviate these effects, especially stiffness and pain. The most commonly used are chondroitin and glucosamine.While recent studies have ruled out their usefulness in these processes, the truth is that some people claim to have improved after their use. If you decide to try them out, you will have to take them for three to six consecutive months.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS is applied for therapeutic purposes. In fact, among non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis, it is one of the most effective alternatives.
The procedure is as simple as it is reliable. Through an electronic device, impulses are sent through the skin to the nerve endings. These signals mix with and interfere with the signals actually sent by the brain and then, help to relieve pain and perform effective rehabilitation exercises.
It is true that its effectiveness differs among different people who use it. Some barely notice its effects; others speak wonders about it and say this form of electrical stimulation has changed their lives exponentially.
What do you think? Now that you know what osteoarthritis is and have more information about how it’s treated, perhaps you will opt for electrostimulation to treat it and improve your quality of life. If you found this article interesting, be sure to visit us to stay up to date on these issues. Subscribe and don’t miss a thing!